Aluminum will play an important role in lightening new
electric and hybrid cars.
Exhibit A is an advanced aluminum space frame in the Fisker
Karma sports car that debuts tomorrow at the Geneva Motor Show in Switzerland.
Fisker Automotive's engineering team designed the Karma's
space frame around the car's Q-DRIVEÂ®
series-hybrid powertrain, filing for multiple patents. Q-DRIVEÂ® features a
2.0L turbocharged ECOTECÂ® engine/generator set, a lithium-ion battery pack
from A123 Systems and a rear-mounted 403 hp traction motor assembly.
The Karma, whose prototype was first shown in January 2008
at the North American International Auto Show, is expected to have a sticker
price of $87,900. The vehicles will have a range of about 50 mi as an
electric vehicle, and will only require one gas fill-up a year if operated
strictly on the electric motor.
The space frame minimizes weight through
use of 5000- and 6000-series aluminum alloys and a unique extrusion-intensive
architecture. 5000 series are alloys
made with magnesium, and derive most of their strength from work
hardening. 6000 series are alloyed with
magnesium and silicon, and are easy to machine.
"Our top priorities when we designed the Karma's aluminum
space frame were that it have extremely high torsional rigidity and could be
easily modified to accept Karma model variants," says Henrik Fisker, CEO, Fisker
Automotive. "We benchmarked some of the world's best cars to create an
all-new space frame that will deliver an exhilarating experience behind the
A super-structural tunnel running down the car's centerline
is the backbone of the vehicle. It not only houses the battery pack but acts as
a torque tube connecting front and rear sections. For optimal strength the
Karma's space frame is joined with 79 m of precision welds and 1,058
Few cars match its statistics:
rigidity â€“ the amount the space frame resists twisting forces when entering
a ramp at an angle, for example â€“ measures more than 33,000 Newton-meters per
rigidity â€“ the amount the space frame resists flexing forces as the car
enters a ramp straight on, for example â€“ measures more than 23,000 N/mm.
â€“ the space frame's resistance to resonant vibrations like those felt when
driving over a sharp bump or rough road surfaces â€“ is also world class.
Front-impact protection starts with a patent-pending,
multi-cell tempered aluminum crush box that displaces high-impact energy away
from passengers. Its design permits easy replacement, reducing repair costs
that could lower insurance premiums. Dual Phase 600-Series steel-reinforced
components in the doors and "B" pillars provide side-impact protection.
And the lithium-ion battery's location in the center of the
car places it away from impact areas. The Karma can be fitted with a solar-paneled
roof to aid in the recharging of its batteries and also to help power the cabin climate control
system. The factory-fitted solar roof can generate up to a half kilowatt-hour a
day, boosting range up to 4 to 5 mi when the sun is shining.
Valmet Automotive will assemble the space frames at a plant
in Uusikaupunki, Finland that has been used to produce Porsches and Saabs.
Fisker Automotive operates an R&D center in Pontiac, MI. "The Karma is
scheduled to start arriving in showrooms late this year," says Russell Datz,
director of public relations for Fisker. " We have a network of 45 U.S. retailers
that have existing showrooms and service centers."
Based in Irvine, CA, Fisker was created in 2007 to leverage
the design capabilities of Fisker Coachbuild, LLC, founded by auto design veterans
Henrik Fisker and Bernhard Koehler, and the PHEV powertrain capabilities of
Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies Worldwide,
a Tier 1 supplier of clean vehicle technologies. Previously, Henrik
Fisker was design director for Aston Martin and president and CEO of BMW's
DesignworksUSA. Koehler, whose title is chief operating officer, led operations
for Ford's Global Advanced Design Studio and created concept cars for Aston
Martin, MINI and BMW.
The first product of the collaboration is the four-door Karma, described as the world's first premium
plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). The Karma will be followed by a second
line of lower cost, high volume automobiles by 2012.
According to data from the Aluminum Association of America:
A hybrid electric car with an aluminum body
would be 13 percent more energy efficient than with a steel body.
Every dollar invested in reducing the weight of
an electric vehicle with aluminum saves three dollars in battery cost.
Aluminum use in cars already saves 300 million
tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually by making cars more efficient.
In a move that strengthens its 3D design business, Stratasys continued a 15-month buying spree this week by announcing its plan to acquire GrabCAD, a provider of a cloud-based collaboration environment for engineers.
Many diverse markets take advantage of semiconductor IP; so many that no one can recite the entire list without leaving off several. So why do we track all the vertical markets? They all have a unique set of requirements and value attributes differently. One major vertical market segment is automotive.
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